UNCF Special Programs Corporation supports students from across the country to make meaningful contributions around the globe and in their own back yard. This summer, UNCFSP selected five students from various Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to serve as SP Scholars. As part of their experience, Scholars were challenged to contribute to the corporation in various ways- one of which was to write a blog.
The fourth blog in the series was written by Kahlee Mitchell, a junior Oakwood University Applied Mathematics and Engineer major:
When people hear that I work for United Negro College Fund Special Programs, their initial reaction is, “Oh! You work for UNCF…so you help African Americans with scholarships?” I then explain that UNCF Special Programs Corporation (SP) is a minority-serving organization that grew out of UNCF. For my own enlightenment I went to the SP website (www.uncfsp.org). There I found the SP mission statement: “Our mission is to organize and deliver educational support services such as capacity building, technical assistance and workforce development programs to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) of higher education.”
So what does SP mean by minorities?
A more formal definition of minority is someone who is part of a population that differs from others in some characteristics and is often subjected to differential treatment.
Okay, I think to myself, we’re getting somewhere with this. I then realize that anyone can be a minority depending on the location or situation. For example, the Harriett G. Jenkins Pre-doctoral Fellowship Project, administered by UNCF Special Programs, chooses groups who are “underrepresented,” which includes women, minorities and disabled persons.
Actually anyone can be a minority depending on the situation and a number of other factors. Let’s start with women. How is it possible that women are a minority when they are everywhere? But women can be a minority group. Take the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields for instance. Here women are recognized as minorities because these fields are usually dominated by men. In contrast, if a woman is a nursing major, they probably are not in the minority as nursing is historically dominated by women. Still, this nursing major may be in another type of minority group—she may be an ethnic minority.
Ethnic groups are American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, African American, and Hispanic or Latino. The American Indian or Alaskan Native group consists of people with origins in any of the original peoples of North America, and who maintain their culture through a tribe or community. The Asian American group consists of individuals with origins in any of the original people of the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander refer to people having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa or other Pacific Islands. The African American population has origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. They are the second largest minority population, following the Hispanic/Latino population. The Hispanic and Latino groups refer to someone of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American descent, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
Disabled persons make up yet another minority group. There are people with disabilities in all racial and ethnic groups. In our culture, this is a group that is often discriminated against. Many do not believe that the disabled can do everything that able-bodied people can do, but the truth is that some people with disabilities can do bigger and better things than their able-bodied counterparts.
While Caucasians are usually not acknowledged as minorities, there are situations where they do fall into the minority category. One of the situations that would make a Caucasian individual a minority is if they decided to go to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely other minority groups identified in the U.S., but these are some of the minorities recognized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Law.
The bottom line is, United Negro College Fund Special Programs is there for minorities. Their commitment to helping minorities and providing them access to various opportunities is priceless. No matter what group you belong to, SP is here to help you with the kinds of opportunities that can lead to success in the realm of higher education and beyond. The question is, will you let them?
-Kahlee Mitchell, UNCFSP Summer Scholar